The old rugged cross

splinters and all

thorn in one’s side


‘fore it let go.

Devoid of the deity

destined to be there,

simple sheep






he used to imagine:


The Hulk.

Hues, shades

unable to see the forest

we walk among,

for that one


tree. Low-hanging

fruit, making all of paradise

one sticky situation.

Anger of the Father

flaming swords and all,


mean streak,

counting to ten.

Commanded from the first

judge, jury,

and executioner,

throwing the Good Book at them.

Idle worship

of this,


and the other

makes Him

green with envy




His incredible wrath

setting sin upon his Son.

That day the sun,

stopped shining.

Veil torn in two,

yet this was but one of three.




he used to imagine:



Nothing spectacular

or amazing

in appearance

that we should be attracted to Him.

Swinging in,

a man of sorrows

and acquainted with grief

your friendly neighborhood

Savior. “A menace!”

shouts J. Jonah Pharisee.

Suspended there, webs

hold our hero in place

until he nailed things down

got his story straight

all the world

and all the weight


“With great power comes great responsibility.”




he used to imagine:


Vision, blinding


and sound–

a voice


Road to Damascus

neural pathways



mental math

making leaps of faith

tinkered tin can,


than a man.

The 1s and 0s

do not compute


within the mind

and the soul

is but a stone

the builders rejected.


The weight of it

brought him to his

knees, dirtied

hurried, a hasty pace


‘pon simple Simon

scuffs of dust

on shoes not yet walked


It shows in his own scars.


Autumn Retreat

Reds and oranges

joined the chorus

skish and crunch

listened to the leaves

beneath the feet

of those that

forge the forest floor.


Ogethan pondered on

his path marked out for him

map, yellowed

at the edges

like calendar pages


as time went by


and quicker

with the dying light of day.


Sharpe, Garth Addison, Jones…



Cheery cherry

pit in his stomach, turned

grew dense

caught up in

lives of little sparrows

and breathed


too narrow

inhaled the crisp

cool air, breathed

out a sigh of relief

and his heart


migrated farther

and farther

how much more the Lord cared for thee.


My heart is heavy.


I marvel at this

rock of ages, eternity even

strip mined

for what’s stuck beneath

the surface.


All this runoff

just so I could,

baring it all

and laying it to waste

water, tears a by-product

of a cold coal


of once-living


stratified plants,

and these dinosaur’s bones

as layer

upon stinking layer,

the fecal fecundity

of fickle feelings




though it seems

as if it doesn’t


and we may not see

the error of our ways

for years to come.


The hardness,

burning hot and dirty

so close to beauty

can’t see

for buried too deep.


Time and pressure,

like Superman,

taken in his hands

to make a diamond

out of me.

Epic Beards of Review: Kickstarter Komics: Oathbound! Lords of the Cosmos!



Indie fantasy western comic Oathbound shoots straight

A stagecoach hurtles across the hardpan desert floor. Shadowy figures take aim from above. Chocobos and jackalopes are tame and wild, respectively. Nevada, 1868. What a wonderful time to be alive.

Writer Kevin Cuffe alongside artist Paul Gori and friends’ latest project Oathbound, blends fantasy and western into a rootin’ tootin’ and high falutin’ fun first issue. Completely funded through an online Kickstarter campaign, Oathbound blurs the lines of both traditionally epic fantasy and western stories. While both writer and artist have been into the comics scene for a while, this is their first full, collaborative project.

There’s a lived-in feel at work in this first issue. A history, but one in which we can’t yet ascertain as to how things have yet come to be. It’s a breath of fresh air, though in a world inhabited with orcs and elves, we’re in for a bit of grim and gritty fun.

The fantasy is parsed out naturally as the story progresses, and heavy-handed it’s not. The spaghetti part of the western lays the sauce on thick, too. Characters are solid, three-dimensional beings with lives outside the panels. The panels themselves have a story of their own, growing organically within gun sights and wooden frames.

The hard-drinking, scoundrelly good guy has enough to make him likable, with an affinity for elvish women that’s checkered his past enough to make the story interesting. The orcs are characters all their own, playing up the work shy and layabout act of drifters. Their dress and demeanor polish off a subset of creature all Cuffe and Gori’s own.

The vernacular of the genre is spot-on, while the outlaws  in Oathbound make you feel part of their posse. Only hinted at in this first issue, back-stabs and double-crosses are sure to make their appearance before too long.

While issue 1 of Oathbound is currently only available to backers of their Kickstarter project, keep tuned in to for fun ephemera and your chance to own a copy.


Kickstarter Update!


As reported in my April 2015 column, State College-based writer/illustrator Jason Lenox successfully funded his Kickstarter campaign for Ugli Studios presents #3 featuring his sci-fi/fantasy story Lords of the Cosmos. Lenox is back at it again with a new crowdfunding campaign to bring us Lords of the Cosmos #1!

Lords tells the story “of the exotic planet Aiden, a planet lost to space and time, where all manner of escaped supervillains, heinous inter-dimensional demons, exiled Earth gods, ancient biowiazrds and corrupt war kings struggle on a hostile world that is the under the control of a sentient, planet-wide machine.” This wicked homage to everything that was great about 80s cartoons and action figures relies heavily on nods to favorites such as He-Man and Thundercats, but never nods off on action.

This crowdfunding campaign has a great retro television commercial promo, with 80s synth music to match. It’s definitely worth the price of admission, of which I made sure to. Levels of pledge commitment include digital and print versions of the comic, as well as neat little nuggets such as art lessons and portfolio critiques as well as custom action figure sculpts!

Lenox has successfully launched 7 previous campaigns, so he knows his market. Included in this issue are a 21-page main story (with seven extra pages) and three new stand-alone stories by various writers. Brand-new pinups, variant covers, and full-color toy packaging are included in this first issue.

Lenox’s Lords Kickstarter is currently 103% funded with a little over a week to go in the campaign; in addition, $8K unlocks next issue stretch goals.  Jason Lenox will also be appearing at Nittany Con on September 25 in State College. If you haven’t backed his project by then, you will once you see his enthusiasm for the his 1980s tribute.

You can find more Jason Lenox and his previous projects here


This article originally appeared as my ‘So You Wanna be a Comic Book Nerd’ column in the September 1 edition of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette Showcase.

Epic Beards of Review: Firestar #4 of 4 (Comic-a-Day 85/365)

comicadayFirestar #4 of 4, JUN 86, (writer) Tom DeFalco (artist) Mary Wilshire

I really wanted to like this. Honest. Trite and contrived, there’s really no story here. Each issue is Firestar defending Emma Frost, Emma Frost setting Firestar up, Firestar eating out of Emma’s hand. There’s no real action here (the entire series, really) save for the last few pages when Firestar figures out she’s been had, and then goes a little off the deep end.

Epic Beards of Review: Firestar #3 of 4 (Comic-a-Day 84/365)

comicadayFirestar #3 of 4, MAY 86 (writer) Tom Defalco (artist) Mary Wilshire

This issue starts out with Firestar’s training. Even after three years, she’s still struggling with figuring out the use of her powers. Emma Frost is still putting the screws to her young protege, so perhaps there’s a part of her holding her back. As we do find out later, however, there’s a sinister game afoot.

Miss Frost has arranged for Firestar to visit her father for the first time since she started attending school. Tensions are high as she arrives home, her father struggling with his daughter’s descent into mutanthood. The vacation is cut short, and it is here that Miss Frost’s plan furthers.

There is another confrontation, this time in the airport, deviously scheduled by Miss Frost. Her lackeys do their due diligence, culminating in an unleashing of her mutant powers. Running back to school, Miss Frost’s plans will be coming to fruition before too long…

Epic Beards of Review: Firestar #2 of 4 (Comic-a-Day 83/365)

comicadayFirestar #2 of 4, APR 86 (writer) Tom DeFalco (artist) Mary Wilshire

The White Queen is a wicked one. You can just feel the tendrils sliding around inside of Firestar’s brain pan, and that’s even before she gets to using her mutant power. Emma Frost is setting this girl up right from the get-go, and you know it’s headed south before too long.

This issue starts off with with a healthy dose of Butter Rum (a horse, unfortunately, not a drink.) With as much focus DeFalco places on this horse, I’d a feeling things would go from bad to worse, because that’s what the evil headmaster of the Hellfire Club has got going on.

Miss Frost is keeping the rest of her prized students away from Firestar with the intention of causing a divisive rift between them. It works. Empath is certainly the worst of everyone’s problems, and is a special kind of jerk to her as they first meet. She trains Firestar alone, amping up the agony by pitting her against visions of Charles Xavier and Wolverine as she trains in Hellfire Club’s answer to the Danger Room.

Emma Frost also ups the ante by inviting the New Mutants to the school for a social mixer. Firestar catches the eye of Cannonball, and through a little prodding, they exit the dance hall and are left to their own devices. Miss Frost has her fingers in a few pies, making this an absolute train wreck.

Anxious to see what else she’s got in store for our heroine…

Epic Beards of Review: Firestar #1 of 4 (Comic-a-Day 82/365)

comicadayFirestar #1 of 4 Limited Series, MAR 86 (writer) Tom DeFalco (artist) Mary Wilshire

Suppose I thought I was over with mutants. Kind of glad I’m not yet. Aside from the warring factions between the X-Men and the Hellfire Club, this series gets off to a good start.

There’s nice set-up here getting us into the daily life of Angelica Jones. Gives us a lot to work with in regards to her motivation and movement into mutanthood. Home and school life are fertile ground for story progression.

We meet the family and witness firsthand the struggle of such. We see a large distinction between our heroine and those that would bully and do her harm. There’s much here from which to mine.

There’s a dichotomy between Professor Xavier and Emma Frost, one which I’m looking forward to seeing pan out. It had better, for sure. These comics lose something when they feel the need to bog us down with guest-stars.

Art and pacing are top-notch, paneling and Angelica’s use of her new-found powers. If I had one qualm, looking back I don’t think I should: I’ve not read much mutant comics, but I assumed powers would go come about all willy-nilly. I guess it just makes sense that they come and go, even in high times of stress.

Epic Beards of Review: Alpha Flight #37 (Comic-a-Day 81/365)

comicadayAlpha Flight #37, AUG 86 (writer) Bill Mantlo (artist) David Ross

This was a neat little package, though tied up poorly for a single issue. I know I can’t expect miracles, but this comes close.

We’re confronted this issue following the journals of Captain F.R. Crozier, chief science officer of a doomed expedition to finding the Northwest Passage. Ships are stuck, sailors are starving, and this sentence has a lot of the letter ‘S.’ They’re taking a 600 mile trek across the Arctic. Things are looking bleak, so Crozier takes himself a powder; however, it is specially concocted to slow his bodily functions to where he would need neither food or drink. His plan is to “die” in the ice as his shipmates continue without him. Unluckily for him, they give him a proper burial.

Years pass, and Snowbird is pregnant. Shaman is going to deliver the baby at a special place of power to do what regular science could not. Turns out he isn’t going to be able to, either, because his daughter Talisman wants today to be hers for revenge. She’s longed to humble her father for killing her mother and losing her own humanity. Oh, the humanity!

Things aren’t looking good, with or without Talisman. You got to research people. If there’s a dead guy buried under your place of power, it’s probably not the best place to be birthing a child from a demi-goddess. Talisman won’t help her father (who has inadvertently summoned Crozier) and she wants to step in and save the baby herself. The only problem: Crozier isn’t dead!

All these maggots and rust and other forms of decay attack Alpha Flight as they do the bidding of Captain Crozier. It also turns out that Talisman cannot control Crozier because he’s not yet a spirit. Bad juju, indeed.

Our issue ends (almost) as a tear is forming in Shaman’s eye, calling out for help having been made old and feeble by Crozier. That LAST page focuses on Atlantis and maybe some foreshadowing of things to come.